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Fri 2nd Apr 2021

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SVG will never achieve prosperity without sustainable sources of revenue

Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, Leader of SVG Green Party, very strongly contends that the lack of revenue creation is our greatest weakness in SVG. SVG will never achieve prosperity without sustainable sources of revenue, but instead will only become poorer.

Still, after 20 years in power, the ULP regime has failed to create sustainable sources of revenue for our country. Not much money from abroad flows into our economy. The ULP regime has been wasteful with public finances by focusing on tourism, building a big jail in North Leeward and building Argyle airport.

None of these create sustainable sources of revenue. In fact, they probably cost more to run and maintain than anything they may earn.

Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, who has a BSc (hons) degree in Accounting and Finance and Economics from Oxford Brookes University, England, says that our country loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year, because we import so much. About 200 million dollars is lost to imported food and hundreds of millions more are lost, because pretty much nothing is manufactured here in SVG.

Our country’s policy makers urgently need to invest in economic variables that offer a high rate of return and sustainable sources of revenue. Our country needs a strong manufacturing sector and a strong service sector. SVG needs a more knowledge-based economy, and for that, we need our own university.

Former Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, was a graduate of Cambridge University, England. After Singapore’s independence, as prime minister he focused on a fiscal policy of sustainable sources of revenue and providing free, high-quality education from pre-school to Singapore’s own universities.

The benefits and success of this policy of sustainable sources of revenue transformed Singapore from poverty and destitution into a World Bank success story. Focusing on having an educated population and a knowledge-based economy has led to Singapore now having one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Tourism was never a variable in Singapore’s rapid economic rise to prosperity, as Lee Kuan Yew realised that tourism cannot produce a high rate of return or create sustainable sources of revenue.

In April 2015, at a meeting with CARICOM leaders, former President of the USA, Barack Obama, repeated SVG Green Party’s university message. He said ‘if you look at some of the most successful countries in the world, they are actually pretty small countries like Singapore – for example. On paper, it looks like they have no assets and yet, if you go to Singapore, it has one of the highest standards of living in the world. What it is that Singapore did that might be replicable? One of the most important things they did is that they made a massive investment in their people and, if you have got a highly skilled [and] highly educated workforce – if you set up rules of law and governance that are transparent and non-corrupt, then you can attract actually a lot of service industries…’.

The problem in SVG is that we have a highly dotish government that wants to use tourism as the foundation of the SVG economy, rather than education. For that reason, our country has no sustainable sources of net revenue and is very poor.

SVG will never achieve prosperity without sustainable sources of revenue and a change of government.

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